Real Estate

Join the movement: tips for converting to a tiny home or cottage

Small cabin

It’s no mystery why the tiny house movement has crept its way into the mainstream. As housing prices soar, some are drawn to the financial perks of a smaller footprint. Tiny homes and the land they’re on can often be paid for up-front without the burden of big mortgages. For others, it’s more of an environmental decision, choosing to live within less space and clean out the clutter from their lives. According to the Canadian Homebuilders Association, the average single-detached Canadian home clocks in at around 2,000 square feet, while tiny homes can be as small as 100 square feet.

But taking the plunge into tiny house living is no small feat and requires some real planning. Whether you’re dreaming of that perfect guest bunkie behind your cottage or adopting a more nomadic lifestyle with a tiny home-on-wheels, these tips can help turn that little dream into a sustainable reality.

How small can you go? Check with your municipality

Tiny house living may be a leap into a more simple life but navigating local building codes can be anything but. Consult with your local municipality before you take the plunge and make sure you’re aware of building permit requirements, zoning laws, and whether or not it’s even legal to construct a tiny home on the property in the first place. Several factors can impact decisions, like if your tiny addition is simply a guest bunkie behind an existing cottage, or if you’re looking to construct a permanent home on a vacant plot of land. If it turns out that your original dream needs to be amended, look for possible workarounds. Many pre-assembled tiny houses come on wheels and can actually be considered mobile homes.

Try a tiny home trial run

Have you spent much time in a tiny space? Have you truly been confined to close quarters with your partner? If you’re exploring the idea of living in a tiny house full-time, invest some time in visiting other homes and see what works for you. You’ll discover how much space you actually require and the layouts and amenities that best suit your lifestyle. You can find lots of tiny house rentals across Canada on Airbnb or check out these tiny rental options from around the world:

Purchase a prefab home

Prefabricated tiny houses are homes that are either already constructed and just need to be moved, or come in kits with pre-cut pieces that can be quickly assembled on-site. There are lots of advantages to purchasing these pre-designed tiny homes. For one, experts have already figured out how to maximize the space and they often come with built-in furniture and features. Secondly, many of these homes are on wheels and can be moved to new locations. Check out mobile Canadian options like Nelson Tiny Houses in British Columbia and Leaf House Homes in the Yukon.

Creative, convertible furnishings

In a tiny home, every inch of space counts and furniture often has to serve more than one purpose. Seek out convertible pieces designed for tight spaces, like these sofas that quickly morph into bunk beds, or look for creative ways of creating counter space. But keep in mind that sometimes when making the most of a micro home, custom and built-in furniture can be a great solution.

Look to the outdoors for extra living space

Your home’s footprint may be tiny but your living space doesn’t have to be. Remember to incorporate the outdoors into your lifestyle. Create lounge areas around gardens or lawns, covered outdoor dining areas, and even platforms where you can pitch tents when you have overnight guests.